The Power of Play in early Childhood Learning

There is nothing more important than the power of play in early childhood learning. Play is the way that young children learn about the world, be that through social interactions, developing fine motor skills, learning language skills or developing their powers of imagination.

There are no less than 34 different definitions of what play is in the Webster Desk Dictionary of the English Language. These include, but are not limited to:
.       Light, brisk and changing movement (for example pretending to be an animal such as a butterfly)
.       To act or imitate a person or character
.       To employ a piece of equipment (playing with toy bricks as an example)
.       Exercise or activity for amusement (games of tag)
The world of play also encompasses singing silly songs to experiment with language, playing physical games and exploring the world through re-enacting various role-playing scenarios.

Whatever children do, they learn best through play but in recent years a new way to play has come on the scene. There has been a huge increase in the rise of iPad, iPhone and Android apps which are both intuitive and educational and have captivated a whole generation of preschoolers.

For parents who are worried about the amount of “screen time” their youngsters are exposed to the rise of such apps may have some cause for concern. After all, many experts suggest that children under the age of two should be allowed to watch no television at all, with older children being limited on the amount of television they watch. With educational apps, however it is a slightly different story as far as the experts are concerned.

Unlike television watching which is a passive, one way process in which children tend to “zone out” from the reality around them, educational apps encourage an interactive, two way approach to learning. When using educational apps, young children are not only being exposed to the world around them, they are developing their fine motor skills and cognitive abilities in a challenging and stimulating, interactive environment.

Just as with any other kind of toy or entertainment, parents should exercise some control over what they allow their children to play with. There is a vast choice of so-called educational apps on the market so where do you start with choosing the best ones for your child? Ex. do your kid need to learn to tell time, The Mingoville Fun Clock App could be a good app to choose. Or if the kid need to practice math the Apps from Mondiso can be recommended.

There is no way to block inappropriate content from your device so ensure that you only download apps from a trusted developer. User reviews are also a great way to find out whether an app is suitable for your child so make sure you read them before you make your choices. It is also wise to try out the game yourself before handing it over to your child. You want to go for apps which are challenging and entertaining and avoid those which are repetitive, boring and fail to stimulate your child`s imagination.

As with all technology it is a good idea to limit the amount of time your child spends playing with these apps. Despite that, your mobile phone can be used for so much more than merely distracting your child while you are at the supermarket. Choosing educational and entertaining apps can certainly help your child get a head start when it comes to learning about the world through play.

funclock300x250

The Benefits of an Online Education and How it’s Changing the Way We Learn

This is a guest post written by Lindsey Wright.

College students all over America are taking advantage of the online revolution in college. They no longer have to sit in class to learn, but can learn via online classes at home with their computers. However, many parents are not aware that their preschool and elementary school-aged children have many online learning opportunities as well.

In the past, rote memorization has been key to success in school. If a child struggled with memorizing math facts, historical dates or spelling words, they were doomed to failure in school. Yet, nowadays, multitudes of sites exist solely to turn learning into a game that a child cannot wait to play.

For instance, English grammar can be a confusing subject for a student to conquer, but the makers of Mingoville hope to help make it easy for children to learn. Mingoville is mainly designed for ESL students, to enhance their fluency and help familiarize them with the language, but could benefit early elementary students as well. All of the prompts on this site are audio, as well as visual, so that students don’t need to have an adult sitting at the computer next to them. This allows them to become comfortable with English on their own.

Math is another subject that many students dread Ironically, many parents often also experience the same exact feelings when it comes to math, causing them to fear hearing the words “I need help with my homework.” However, by using the many tutorials that are available online, parents and children can begin to understand those tricky concepts, such as fractions and percents. Tutorials are fabulous because students who need repetition to learn are able to repeat a lesson as many times as needed. Better yet, they no longer have to feel embarrassed in class for raising their hands once again to have a concept re-explained.

Additionally, using various historical and scientific websites can make formerly tedious subjects come to life. No longer does a student have to rely on memorizing lists of names and dates, or properties of scientific laws. By watching online videos and historical reenactments it can be much easier to put to memory what the student has read about in a textbook.

The beauty of using online learning is that parents no longer have to accept that being in a mediocre school district means that their children won’t get a decent education and struggle to get into college. By simply playing a few interesting, fun, educational games, their children can master the subject matter presented and go on to explore even more fascinating topics. Children who have formerly struggled with school will gain confidence and self-esteem, as they become proficient learners. These children will also gain insights about how they learn best, a skill that is quite valuable in college. It seems that simply logging on to a computer can change a child’s school career forever.

The author of this article, Lindsey Wright is fascinated with the potential of emerging educational technologies, particularly the online school, to transform the landscape of learning. She writes about web-based learning, electronic and mobile learning, and the possible future of education.

Mingoville Fun Clock – Learn to tell time

It has newer been more fun for kids to learn to tell time. Some months ago I spoke with a teacher. She told me how disappointed she was. Almost all her students in 3rd grade did not know how to tell time on an analogue clock.

I went home and spoke with our developers. And today we are happy to release a fun and engaging App that can tell children to tell time.

The first edition is in English and Chinese, but more languages are coming. We hope that the English version can be used in ELT, ESL training as well as it contains a movie and some interactive exercises that makes it fun for kids to play with. Listening to the more than thousand audio files recorded by English speaking voice actors also helps their future pronunciation skills. Download the app from App Store. Link kan be found on Fun Clock website

— FEATURES —
• Animation characters talking about the clock – How does the big hand work and how does the small hand work?

• Animation movie showing the relationship between the analogue clock and the digital clock

• Four levels to unlock – Hours, half hours, quarters and minutes

• Certificate – kid earn certificate if all levels are completed. For the kid that can be mailed or shared to others

• Real voice actors with more than a 1000 audio files

• Great graphic

• Many hours fun and educational time

• Mute function for background sounds

— GAMES INCLUDED —

• Build your own clock

• Talking clock

• Move the hands to tell time

• Choose the right clock to make the bus depart

• Tilt the ipad or iphone to move the numbers to the right position on the clock

Hope your kids will enjoy our Fun Clock app :-)

See [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qi0E4bO1Yck[/youtube]

developed with:

Cross-platform Mobile App Development Showcase

Mingoville Preschool

Due to large demand we have for some time been working on a solution for kids learning English even younger than primary education. We are happy to share with you some of the initial offerings this solution will have.

Mingoville Pre-School is suitable for students, age 4-6 years old. The content of the English program has been carefully designed and developed together with educators and English teachers. The interactive activities in the program encourage children to learn vocabulary under the “Play-and-Learn” mode.

MINGOVILLE_preschool_LOGO

The program includes 7 thematic Missions training different vocabulary.

  • Focus on vocabulary and word recognition
  • Kids train pronunciation by listening to words and record their own words.
  • Future pronunciation is also enforced when they listen to the several thousand audio files, spoken by British and US voice actors.
  • Many different game plays that teach kids about; Family, colors, letters, food, animals, body parts, furniture and more.
  • Lovable animated baby flamingo helps kids along as they play the games.
  • Animated rewards! Kids get a reward after every other game they complete.
  • Designed for preschoolers
  • Easy navigation and few menus.
  • Unlimited play! Each game flows right into the next.

Mingoville Preschool will be available in September 2011 on the following platforms: Windows, IOS and Android

Mingoville mobile educational games for Android

Dear Mingoville fans. We are exiting to release many new Mingoville learning games to the Android platform. The newest games are developed on the Adobe Air platform. Let me tell you it has really been exiting to see how well the newest Air release are working on multiple platforms and multiple screen sizes. I think we will see many new exiting games in the near future using Flash to Air. Please try one of our first educational games ready in the Android Market. The games is called “Words United” and it is a sentence construction exercise. This game has more than 800 audio files. You need to drag the words and make sentences. Use you Mingoville login to unlock more missions. Good luck

Find the game here: Words United

featureGraphics_1024x500

Mingoville Sudoku on Android…Thank you Adobe Air

This is really exiting for Us. We are always looking for new platforms to reach our audience. With more and more smartphones coming out, our focus has for a long time been on the Android OS.

As we are participating in the Adobe Air for Android pre-release program, we have been able to access the AIR SDK and the Android Emulator.

We now have the first Mingoville game running on the HTC Hero with Android 2.1. The game has been developed in Flash.

To see the live demonstration please see this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/user/MingovilleUniverse

As always we encourage you to create a Mingoville account for your kids so the can start to learn English for free now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85ja3fl9h3Y

Kids Learn to Spell through Fun Games in Mingoville Virtual World

To spell the words of a foreign language is not an easy task but it’s crucial in order to learn the language. Mingoville has developed different English spelling games where the kids through pictures, clues, sound and movement learn to spell English words by playing with them.

Lately, I have been writing about the different games and their educational purpose in Mingoville Virtual World. Some of you have commented that you find it hard to create an overview of the learning possibilities because the virtual world is not linearly structured and it has many maps (areas). However, it is fun for the kids to discover the different maps and what to do on these maps which is why we do not make English Letter Game an overview of where to find what. It takes too much of the fun away. Instead, I have written a short description of each game to give at least an overview of what games to find. In the end, after the last game post, the idea is to gather all games in one place and in that way try to give you an overview of the educational content in the virtual world.

So far I have covered SuperStar where the kids learn English singing, recording songs and giving concerts, QuizTalk where the kids practice English pronunciation and listening, and the Boat Races where the kids practice to recognize different words in a fun setting. Spelling is an important part of all language learning and we Word Searchhave of course also developed spelling games.

In the LetterGame, the kids see different images of words that he/she needs to spell by clicking on the image and listening to the pronunciation of the word. After the word has been  pronounced, the child begins to chase the letters to compose the word in writing. The letters have to be put together in a string to form the word. The letters have to be dragged around the board to put the word together. If the letter is wrong the string will turn red and break.

In the other spelling game, Word Search, the kids need to recognize words either horizontally, vertically or diagonally. The words are shown in images in the green sidebar to the right. When mousing over the picture, the word appears and the student is ready to find it in the puzzle. I personally like this game a lot, I can spend hours in there.

Both games develop the student’s ability to create an overview of complex content. In both games, the student has to detect specific words by resorting to the use of images. As in all the other games, the students earns coins based on how many words are spelled and the time it takes to spell them. After each game the score list will appear and the student can see his or her position on the different score lists, e.g. by country, the world, today, weekly, monthly or all times. The score lists make it possible to set up competitions based on, for instance, Country and Today to encourage students to improve their spelling skills.

As always we welcome comments and suggestions.


How Do You Learn English While Boat Racing in Mingoville Virtual World?

That is a good question but nevertheless it’s possible. All games in Mingoville Virtual World are educational and developed to teach kids English. That goes for the Boat Races as well. Prior to this blog post, I described the learning possibilities in the social MMO games; Quiz Talk and SuperStar which are based on interaction and content produced by the students themselves in the form of songs or recorded words from the interactive dictionary.
The Boat Races are competition games. The students race against one another on time.

Multitasking Games

There are three types of Boat Races; 1-player, 2-player and 4-player races.

1 player Boat Race4 Player Boat Race2 Player Boat Race

All Boat Races are built upon speed and English word recognition. The boat is controlled using the arrows on the keyboard. The students’ ability to recognize the words have been build up in the theme based missions, where the students spell, read, listen and practice the pronunciation and meaning of the word in different contexts. In the Boat Race, the students have to quickly recognize the words, collect the right items and still maintain speed around the corners of the racing track, which will strengthen their coordination and multitasking skills as well as the ability to recognize the words they learned in the missions.

The GameBoat Race Game Racing on time, the student needs to collect the right items. He or she receives points based on the numbers of “collected” items as well as time spent in total. In all games, the points are converted to coins that the student can spend in Mingoville drinking coffee or renting a fishing rod.

After the games, the score list will appear and the student can check his or her position on different parameters, e.g. Today among all the users of Mingoville, or this Week among the kids of his or her own country, or perhaps All Time for the whole world.

High Score List for the Boat Race

The Boat Races are popular games because it’s always fun to compete against your friends. Besides, the games are based on basic English words which make them ideal games for the beginners. In some of the other games, the student is required to have some understanding of English in order to play or at least to win the games.

A way of using the Boat Races actively in the classroom or at home is to challenge the students for a race against their teacher or parent. I have to give you a warning. If you are not a regular gamer, it’s not easy to navigate the boat – I’m not a hardcore gamer and I have a hard time controlling the direction of the boat. I get beaten by youngster all the time. I really have to practice my navigation skills to keep up with the kids. However, it’s fun and it boosts the kids’ self confidence when they beat you. In the name of fun and positive learning, we dare you to challenge your students or your child.

We’d love to hear the results. As always you are welcome to comment and make suggestion to new features.

Are You the New Star? Sing Your Heart Out in Mingoville Virtual World

The Club where a student is giving a concertThis week we launched The Club in Mingoville Virtual World where the kids are the stars. They can go in the Studio to record their song and then play it to their friends from the stage.

This is the second blog post in the series about our virtual English learning games. Last blog was about Quiz talk, if you missed it, read it here. This current blog will give parents and teachers an impression on what Super Star is. How do kids learn English playing SuperStar? SuperStar is located at The Club.

SuperStar is a Social Learning Game
In SuperStar, the student gives a live concert using one of his recorded songs from his “My Book” repertoire or by going in the studio to record a song from the song catalogue. All songs are in English and they all relate to the different mission themes in Mingoville e.g. The Body or My family. The songs wrap up the vocabulary of each mission and set it into a context in the lyric of the songs.

Super Star is based on the content the students generate just as The Quiz Talk. Furthermore, it’s developed around social learning principle as it requires an audience to give a concert. The more people come to your concert, the higher possibility of a loud applause which generates many points. All participants in SuperStar earn points based on their level of participation. The idea of developing a social learning game based on the work the students produce results in a high interaction and thus intensive immersion into the English language because the students are having fun while using the language.

The GameSuperStar performing
To play SuperStar, a student needs to record at least one of the 10 sing-a-long songs from the Mingoville karaoke album. The recording of a song can take place either as part of a mission or directly from the Studio in The Club. All songs produced will appear in the student’s “My Book” as part of the portfolio.

The game starts when the student enters the stage and the audience has checked in. The student can either invite his buddies to the concert or other students can drop in. The concert is open to everybody. The higher applause from the audience during the concert, the more funky moves the performer can make on stage and the more points he gains. All participants in the game earn points based on their engagement thus the more you cheer as the audience the more points you gain.

Future Releases
The game in itself is designed to motivate the students to practice vocabulary and a good pronunciation in a fun environment using media which is already very familiar to them. Future development could be the possibility of dressing your flamingo in different wardrobes related to stars, the integration of cell phones to record and upload songs and maybe even some video clips.

Log in and try the game yourself. What do you think? Comments and suggestions are as always welcome

Are You Talking to Me? New Social Quiz Game Improves Kids’ English Speaking Skills

Mingoville Virtual World teaches kids English through fun games. Most kids get it right away. When they see a new game in Mingoville, they explore it and figure out how it works along the way. The more games and interaction, the happier they are and the more they learn. For some grownups though, it may be harder to understand what all these social and virtual games are about.Mingoville Virtal Cafe area where the Quiz Talk is located

Some time ago, we promised that we would write in more details about what’s going on in the Mingoville new Virtual World. How do the kids learn English in a social learning community? The following blog posts will provide a good overview of the different learning games inside Mingoville. This first post is about our “Quiz Talk” game that is located in the Café area around the coffee tables in Mingoville Virtual World.

The Quiz Talk is a Social Learning Game
As much of the buzz around virtual worlds is related to the socialization within these communities, we also take advantage of the social possibilities within Mingoville community to make it more fun for the kids to learn English.

According to Gigaom, what makes gaming social is the ability to create and build relationships with friends while playing the game. The Quiz Talk is a social learning game that allows students to develop their social skills as well as their ability to understand English spoken by other people around the world. It is social in the way that it requires two players, and the players have to cooperate and interact to win.

How to Play and What to Learn
The Quiz Talk uses the recorded words in the interactive dictionary of each student and creates a “conversation” between the two students playing the game. They have to guess each other’s words by choosing Interactive Dictionary where the kids can record words, listen to pronunciation, and see the word in their own languageone out of the three pictures.

The kids have to record at least 5 words in their interactive dictionary to play the Quiz Talk. The recorded words from the dictionary appear at the top bar inside the game. The more words they record and play for their buddies, the more points they gain.

The game: You pick a word and play it for your buddy. Your buddy listens to your word and has 3 pictures to choose from. He or she has to pick the picture that relates to your recorded word. If he picks the right picture, you both gain points. If he picks the wrong picture, none of you get points. The faster he guesses your word, the more points you both get. Instead of competing, the game is based on cooperation in the sense that the students have toQuiz Talk Game put an effort into the correct pronunciation of the words to ease the task of the co-player. The quiz also strengthens the kids’ capability of understanding other accents/dialects. While making new friends, the student practices pronunciation, reading, understanding and spelling. This is what we call social learning.

What Do We Plan for the Future?
Listening to the voice of the “buddy” gives the kid a feeling of getting closer to the co-player, getting to know him better. This social aspect of the game turns the usual virtual buddy, whom you generally don’t really know, into a real friend. The future development of the Quiz Talk will focus on making the conversation even more social and personal. E.g. this could be to turn words into sentences about your family maybe even include the possibility of uploading pictures of your family into your dictionary that will be displayed in the Quiz Talk.

The student will find the English learning more relevant and fun when it involves part of his own life. It may even function as an intercultural exchange of different ways of living. The development of an English game will always be based on our knowledge of what kids want, latest technologies and it will always have an English learning aspect.

Sign up or log in to try the game. What do you think? As always we welcome any comments or suggestions.